The new Citizens' Bureaux was very popular, open Monday to Thursday evening; the reduced property taxes too. I used a bit of the rainy-day fund to buy new PCs, software and furniture; I took a lot of old stuff to the dump and to the archive in Bigtown in my old pick-up truck. We use two rooms in the Town Hall – my office and the former Tourist Information Office as the Citizens' Bureaux.
Working part-time left me plenty of time to clear out the Town Hall, I started on Copper House, more old stuff for the dump, I painted all the rooms and replaced rotten floorboards and installed a new efficient boiler for the heating and hot water. The garden looked better too.
The year passed fairly quickly, working in the Town Hall, DIY at home and time with Deirdre. I cooked most evenings for the two of us and helped her with her homework. I often went down the pub, but Deirdre wasn't interested, however the doctor was.
I spent a lot of time with the doctor. I got her to examine Deirdre, there was something wrong with Deirdre, she looked so young and her feet did not reach down to the ground. However the doctor found nothing.
It was soon Xmas again, Deirdre, the doctor and I had a fun time, we were invited to the Lans for Boxing Day. Deirdre, the doctor and Jean Lans had a long chinwag in the kitchen. Peter and I went for a drink or three in the library.
“You've done a splendid job as Mayor, Yudi. Everybody is happy to pay less taxes and the revamped Citizens' Bureaux is a great idea. But do tell me, what happened to Dingeldei.”
I told him about the Schwinn Flying Karnage with the pink leather seats, the repo man and John Cairns. Peter laughed. “I saw him about six months ago driving a gold-coloured Schwinn Flying Karambolage, obviously doing well. However last week I read that he had been jailed for fraud.”
It was the first day of the year, it was very cold and there was this strange knock on the door.
“Hello, can I come in? My name is Hollytree.”
She was about eighteen years old, her clothing thin and grey. She held a small suitcase.
“Hello! Haven't you got a home to go...”
Before I had time to think and invite her in, she had disappeared. I shut the door and turned round and there she was talking to Deirdre. They obviously knew each other.
I followed them into the kitchen and made three big mugs of cocoa.
“Oh, it's nice and warm in here.”
“Wait until you try a mug of cocoa, it'll warm you up from the inside.”
“Oh, I've never had this before, it's very nice.”
I looked at her, I talked to her. “I suppose that you, Holly, were at the same home as Deirdre and that you had to leave the home because today is your eighteenth birthday.”
“No, no, no! My name is Hollytree, got it, Hollytree, but you're right about the home.”
She disappeared again, I looked around and there she was standing in the kitchen doorway, the word jack-in-the-box came to mind.
“Deirdre Darling, could you please take Hollytree to the bathroom and show her how to use the shower. And could you please lend her some of your clothes.”
Was Hollytree a jump-up-and-down sort of person?
Were all the girls at the home born on the first of the first?
And how many more girls were there at the home?